San Diego Fire-Rescue adds Black Hawk helicopter to fleet

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Fire-Rescue later this year will add to its fleet a new helicopter designed to help find and extinguish wildfires quicker, perform rescue missions and deliver initial medical care, authorities said Tuesday.

The S-70 Black Hawk helicopter provided by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, will be modified by a third party in 2019 and outfitted with features including a 1,000-gallon belly tank, retractable snorkel, extended landing gear and rescue hoist, according to a Sikorsky news release.

“The Black Hawk is a game changer in its primary role of fire suppression in support of ground firefighting crews,” San Diego Fire-Rescue Air Operations Chief Chuck Macfarland said.

The addition will bring the department’s aerial fleet to three.

“Never before has the City of San Diego operated as large and as powerful a helicopter as the Black Hawk, which can accurately place almost three times more water on a wildland fire in a single drop than our current fleet,” Macfarland said.

The San Diego City Council approved the $9.8 million helicopter purchase at a meeting in December 2017.